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Dealing with neighbour disputes

Off to a new renovations project, Joe Darragh, parked his truck in his client’s shared driveway.


Off to a new renovations project, Joe Darragh, parked his truck in his client’s shared driveway.

But what the owner and operator of residential and commercial renovators Blueprint Renovations (blueprintrenovations.com) didn’t realize is that he would be encountering a not so happy neighbour who didn’t have access to park his vehicle. The property line of his client’s house isn’t exactly in the middle of the drive.

So although Darragh’s truck was parked where it should be, it still caused problems with the neighbour who couldn’t get in or out of his driveway.

“It was just a one-day blowup sort of thing, but we worked everything out,” says Darragh.

Problematic situations like these are common, and most escalate quickly and get more out of hand than necessary. So before starting any renovations, it’s a good idea to talk to you neighbours, on both sides, and let them know what you have planned.

“I’ve heard of neighbours parking vehicles behind trucks so the trucks can’t get out or in,” Darragh tells Metro. “I’ve heard of them coming over and kicking in doors, throwing things ... these are things I’ve heard, I’ve never had experience with that.”

Darragh says talking to your neighbour and informing them that they may be inconvenienced for a while is a good idea prior to doing anything. You could also get the contractor to talk to them as well.

“The contractor can inform them as to if you’re going to have garbage bins show up, how long they’ll be there for, how long the construction will last, if there’s dust and debris that’s going to be created,” he says. “They’ll also be able to let him know when construction is going to start in the morning and end at night, so typically 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. is pretty standard.”

Of course, when most home renovations are going on, they require building permits to be issued. And once those have been issued, there’s not much a neighbour can say or do about it.

However, Darragh says that doesn’t mean the neighbour can’t make things difficult by blocking a truck from getting in or out. So nipping these problems in the bud and trying to avoid them altogether is your best bet for things to run smoothly.

Cesar Palacio, city councillor for Toronto’s ward 17, says these are problems most members of council encounter often. But as lousy as things may get, there’s always a way of working things out.

“Very often, for example with fences and renovations, people have to get access to the neighbour’s property,” he says. “The problem sometimes is that neighbours have their own disputes because they don’t speak to the neighbour about what they’re doing.”

At times, the problem is lack of communication between neighbours and it’s not that difficult to get a compromise. Sometimes it is difficult, and you’re not always successful with your attempts, adds Palacio, and then it could escalate to the point of getting lawyers involved.

There is a bylaw in place that allows the next-door neighbour to do repairs to his or her house by getting access to the neighbour’s property.

“But you have to give notice in writing to that neighbour to let them know what you intend to do, and it’s your responsibility to restore the property to its original state. So you cannot leave a mess behind or leave the neighbour’s property damaged,” he says.

So documenting what you’re doing with before and after photos is always a good way to protect yourself from any future problems with your neighbour.

 
 
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